In 2015 the Government released plans to improve air quality across the UK, including the implementation of five ‘Clean Air Zones’ (CAZ) in some of the country’s most polluted cities by 2020. Since then a further 23 cities are now considering the introduction of a CAZ and 33 are considering additional clean air measures. The BVRLA has been actively involved from the start to ensure the voice of the rental and leasing industry is heard by decision makers at a national and local level.
Affected local authorities have been instructed to produce comprehensive action plans detailing how they will reduce all sources of pollution, including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, using a range of activities tailored to the specific needs of that zone’s location.
Cities with the most persistent air quality problems will apply restrictions to encourage only the cleanest vehicles to operate within the boundaries of their CAZ. This could take the form of a charging CAZ, where any vehicle not meeting the specified emission standards will be required to pay a fee to operate within the boundaries of that zone, or it may even introduce a total ban of any non-compliant vehicle.
Wherever CAZs are implemented, the BVRLA believes that a strong partnership between the fleet sector, national government, local authorities, businesses and communities can help combat air pollution and improve everyone’s quality of life.
To read a more detailed description of the different charging CAZ options visit the Clean Air Zones FAQ page:
The BVRLA has carried out a series of policy roundtables in four of the English cities (Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Birmingham), plus a further event in Glasgow. The objective of these events was to ensure the voice of the fleet sector in agreeing the final CAZ standards, and that the resulting zone would be impactful in reducing NOx emissions, cost-effective, and business-friendly.
1. Restrict use of CAZs
Given their disruptive effects on local businesses and people, and limited benefits, CAZs should only be used where absolutely necessary. Where they are required they should be as a small as possible to minimise disruption.
2. Smart use of road space
Giving hauliers the flexibility to deliver at night would result in a lot of freight vehicles moving off congested urban roads during peak business hours. Allowing HGVs to use bus lanes outside of commuting hours would enable them to operate as efficiently as possible and avoid them sitting in congestion idling. A lorry stuck in congestion, stopping and accelerating back up to 30mph three times a mile triples fuel consumption compared to cruising at a constant speed. In addition, the Government needs to provide local authorities with sufficient guidance and resources to identify congestion hotspots and improve traffic management. This could reduce emissions and minimise the need to charge any road users, including HGVs.
3. Location-based exemptions
Consideration should be given to providing selected route-based HGV charge exemptions for certain essential locations within Clean Air Zones. These should include vehicle dealerships and Authorised Testing Facilities (ATFs), where test lane capacity is already an issue across parts of the UK. There may also be a case for providing other route exemptions for large logistics hubs that are situated just inside a CAZ and involve minimal transport within an urban area.
4. Phased charging
A reduced Euro V charge would maintain residual values for these vehicles, thus making it easier for operators to sell them and fund an upgrade to a compliant Euro VI truck. It would also provide a lower cost upgrade for operators that are never going to be able to afford a brand-new truck. This temporary measure would help accelerate the removal of the 20% of the HGV market that is likely to still be Euro IV or under at the end of 2020. One suggested approach to such a phased system would see lower Clean Air Zone charges applied to Euro V lorries initially, with charges increasing as the proportion of Euro VI vehicles in the lorry fleet rises between 2020 and 2024.
There is a danger that retrofit is being given undue prominence as a potential solution for upgrading non-CAZ compliant vehicles. There is currently no retrofit option for heavier commercial vehicles.
6. Consistent Clean Air Zones
As far as possible, local authorities should adhere to common clean air zone standards in terms of hours of operation, signage, communications and use of mitigation measures and exemptions. As many businesses will operate within multiple cities and regions daily it is vital that a standardised approach is developed to avoid confusion and improve the ease of compliance for drivers.
The BVRLA has been campaigning for a fleet-friendly approach to improving air quality in the UK's most polluted cities ever since the first Clean Air Zones (CAZs) were announced.
Throughout 2017 and 2018 the BVRLA co-hosted a series of roundtables with the Energy Savings Trust, Fleet News and ACFO in four of the first five cities considering a CAZ (Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, and Nottingham) as well as in Glasgow, the first of the Scottish cities to take steps towards a Low Emisison Zone (LEZ). These roundtbales offered a forum for local authority representatives to meet with local fleet operators and BVRLA members to discuss the impact and implementation of potetial CAZs in their city.
Following the roundtable discussions the BVRLA has produced a series of recommendations for local authrorities who are considering how to implement a CAZ. These recommendations are outlined within the association's 'Fleet-friendly Air Quality' factsheet for policy makers. Similarly the BVRLA has worked with the Road Haulage Association (RHA), the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), and the Frieght Transport Association (FTA) to produce a bespoke factsheet on the impact of CAZs on HGVs.
Influencing Decision Makers
The BVRLA has regular contact with policy makers in the cities currently considering CAZs, as well as at a national level with the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU). Furthermore, the association meets with senior MPs, Peers and other engaged stakeholders frequently to discuss air quality measures and plans, including with relevant select committe members and chairs. Finally, the BVRLA has met with both Environment Minister, Dr Therese Coffey MP and Transport Minister, Jesse Norman MP during 2018 on the subject of CAZs and in particular the Government's vision on the use of charging CAZs across the UK.